A/N: Ah, the sweet disgusting taste of caffeinated water with bitter beans mixed in; I'm talking about coffee, of course. Trust me, don't ever let me drink coffee. Everything will go to absolute hell if that happens. Anyways, since I drank some today, I'm working at twice the normal pacing and you all know what that means: my mouth has even less of a filter than the non-existent one before! The joys of my mildly sociopathic tendencies has never felt so amazing before today. Well enough about my personal life, we're all here for one thing, right? Begin shouting in 3...2...1...Pon's chapter!, or in the official sense, the Youko one-shot. Someone asked me to do a little something for my beloved (abused) intern (plaything) and I accepted, knowing full well of the respect (degradation) that I hold for Pon. "Excuse me for a second, everyone." *Goes offstage for a few minutes, the sounds of cracking bones and screaming horror fill the studio* "Don't mind the red stains, it's just some 'punch' that I drank. Also it seems that one of my employees has resigned from working on this series, so I'm now accepting applications for Censoring. Be aware that I like to randomly give out affectionate headbutts." Too bad I sent Pon on vacation last chapter; he's really good at medical stuff. Oh well, I'm sure Pon won't mind that I sent a ninja spy to stalk his every movement for this one-shot. Please, make yourselves comfortable while I run an 'investigation' on the former head of Censoring for the series.
Finally, after one year of working for that jerk, I am granted my wish of a long-overdue vacation. He told me that I could go wherever I wanted, so what better place could there be than my hometown in the Zipangu region? I got here a few days ago via caravan, and so far nothing much has changed since I left for the cities. The town is still the same simple tourist destination as it's always been, making it a perfect spot for my vacation. Most of the buildings in the area are set up as some sort of inn or resort, but then there's the occasional specialty store which I've always enjoyed in my youth. As I start walking in on the main road, the scent of local cuisine hits me in waves and my mouth starts watering as tears start to form in my eyes; I'm finally home after 10 years on my own. I stand stunned for a few more precious minutes to take in all of the sounds and smells that I missed for so long. Everything in the city seems so bothersome when I compare it to the familiarity of home.
The first thing that I do is find a place to stay, preferably close to my family home towards the edge of town. I approach a tall, but hospitable-looking inn and quickly enough, I see the elderly owner sweeping near the front gate.
“Hello madam. Does your inn have any open rooms at the moment?” I ask as I walk closer.
“Hmm, I think we have just one room left if you don't mind sharing with a stranger.” She replies as she studies me with wise eyes.
“Not much changes in this town, does it?”
“I'm afraid we don't really enjoy change around here. This town is deeply-rooted in traditions that are far too important. Say, boy, have you been here before?” The woman cups her chin as she continues to look me over.
“Actually, I used to live here about 10 years ago-”
“That's it! You're Asakura's boy! The one who left to be a hero!” She shouts aloud, attracting the attention of dozens of villagers.
“Please, just call me Kisuke. I'm not really worthy of being known as the Asakura heir-”
“Nonsense, your family is legendary around these parts!” A villager protests.
“The hope of our village has finally come home!” Another cheers.
“Asakura-sama!” A group of village girls calls out to me.
“...” I can only stand in complete shock as the whole village practically descends on me.
I am then dragged around the town by several prominent figures in town, most of whom my father knew but I did not. Essentially, everyone is ecstatic about my arrival ever since I left after being named a hero for something I did in my childhood. The troubling part about it is that I can't seem to remember what I exactly did to be chosen as a hero. No matter how much the townspeople tell stories from my childhood or how often they take me to my favorite places, it doesn't get any easier to recall what I did in my days living here.
Finally after a long day of revisiting my still-clouded past, I make my way back to the inn where all the commotion started. The old woman is still outside despite the evening hours, so I ask her again for a room to stay in. She offers to evict the current occupants of the highest quality room, but I stop her by convincing her that I am fine with sharing the one open room that she told me about before. I take the key and head up a few flights of stairs to my room. Opening the door reveals a simple room decorated with a tradition Zipangu style with just one area for dining, entertainment and of course, sleep. My roommate is oddly absent, but I'm sure he will appear at some point. However, despite all of the chaos that happened to me today, I don't feel the least bit tired. On the contrary, all of the traveling around has given me a wish to explore and experience all of the attractions that I could never really understand as a kid.
The first thing in my mind are the hot springs that this particular inn is famous for. I undress and fold my clothes into a pile near the corner of the room and head into the hall, grabbing a towel from a hanger on the wall. The other guests passing by pay no mind to me, a welcome change compared to the villagers who assaulted me earlier. A few quick turns later, I make out the familiar blue and pink cloths marking the separation between male and female areas except for the fact that they are both two halves of one banner with the word 'onsen' written on it. Despite my normally reserved attitude towards women, I'm curious to discover the appeal of 'mixed bathing' ever since I heard about it from my boss in the city.
“Listen up, man, because I'm only gonna say this once: do mixed bathing.”
“Seriously, there's nothing better than sharing an all-natural bath with a potential one-night stand! I got 'acquainted' with several important people that way. Hahahaha!!”
“Whatever you say, sir...”
I don't particularly think of him as someone who's allowed to exist, but he is not an evil person by any standards; at least not from my experience. However, this particular piece of advice sends shivers down my back from equal parts anticipation and caution. Without any more hesitation, I take in a deep breath and pass through the doorway ignoring all of the other changing guests, stopping once I feel the rocky ground under my feet. No one else seems to be in the springs right now, more like it seems that everyone was just about to leave based on what I saw (and didn't) as I passed through the changing room. Brushing off the slight loneliness surrounding the springs, I throw my towel aside and step into the warm, relaxing water with ease. I breathe a sigh of relief and stretch myself in pleasure as I quickly feel rejuvenated in the hot spring.
Suddenly, I feel the vibrations of another person entering the water and wading closer to my location. I turn away out of respect, but then something furry touches my neck. I cringe and shuffle away from the guest, but the furry feeling never leaves me even when I duck underwater. Finally, I turn around to face my tormentor and I'm met with the sight of a woman with fiery red hair. Her most striking feature is the set of fox tails that surround her; I count four in total. I cautiously let my eyes wander downwards and feel my cheeks flush at the sheer volume of her chest. This is an alarming situation, mostly because of the necklace that I wear at all times. When my boss gave it to me, he told me that it will repel monster girls, but I should've known that he would trick me like this. As I stand there gawking at her gorgeous figure, her soft, but cheerful voice breaks the silence between us.
“What do you think? Like what you see?” She leans forward, letting gravity take hold of her figure.
“U-Um...you are quite attractive, miss.” I slowly try to distance myself, but it seems impossible with her almost rubbing herself against me.
“Thanks. You don't seem to be lacking either, stud.” She gently slides a finger down my bare chest while coming ever closer.
“You seem to be getting over-familiar with me. I'd appreciate it if you stopped.” I boldly state, trying to resist her advances with all of my willpower.
“You mean you don't remember? I guess I'll have to show you...” She whispers before backing away from me.
I watch as her tails shoot up and small blue flames start to appear around her. In a flash of light, she disappears from sight. I blink several times to confirm her absence, but then a small fox jumps into my chest, prompting me to hold it in my arms. It's red fur looks very welcoming and once it rubs its head against me, I have no choice but to lovingly pat its head. This sensation brings some images to mind: an injured animal, a caring boy, and both of them curled up as sleep approaches.
“That's right. We were best friends all those years ago, when you saved me.” The fox coos softly as it leaps out of my arms and, in another flash of light, transforms into the Youko that I saw previously.
“My memory is still a bit fuzzy. What exactly happened then?” I ask once Yuuko once we are back in our room; as fate would have it, she is the one that I am sharing the room with.
“You came across me one day in a meadow when I lay injured. Back then, Youko like myself had to stay disguised as foxes to avoid suspicion; it didn't help us against other animals though.” Yuuko's face clouds with ominous emotion, but brightens as she continues her story.
“You brought me home with you, bandaged me up, even ate meals with me until I was recovered; it felt like I instantly became part of your family.”, Yuuko hugs my arm as she looks up at me with adoring eyes, “And...I fell in love with you because of that.”
“We were both kids at that time. There's no way you could have been sure.” I weakly try to resist her advances.
“Kisuke, your family knew I was a Youko, but you protected me all the same; such kindness is rare for this village.” Yuuko's tails stroke me affectionately in various places as she leans against me.
“I was only doing the right thing; anyone could understand that...” I humbly dismiss her claims.
“Please, Kisuke...” Yuuko stares into my eyes with tears in her eyes.
Damn, she's just too cute when she looks at me that way! I remember everything now, but can I really date her? It's been 10 years since we last saw each other, we might have grown apart by now. However, deep down I think I feel the same way that she does; I might actually love her...
“Yuuko”, I begin, “I...I...I accept your feelings.”
“...!!!” Yuuko pounces me, causing us to fall onto the floor.
She's making a sound that is a mix of crying and howling, but I can tell that she's too happy to say anything in words. I gently pet her head, whispering words of affection while sharing in her happiness. Once she calms down, we kiss with all of the pent-up passion that was left to build in the years we've been apart. What started as a vacation for me is now the blooming of a beautiful flower whose seeds I planted when I first took Yuuko into my life.
A/N: Well, that was quite the experience. Even I didn't know that Pon had this side to him; he always seems...distant. Of course, I know his real name, but I still call him Pon for simplicity's sake. *Everyone in the audience stares* What? I just simplify everything to the understanding of a child; that's how my mind works usually. Anyways, now that I mention it... "Pon, get in here!" "Yes sir?" "How was your vacation, huh?" "It was...fine. Nothing special, really." *I grin like the Cheshire Cat* "Oh really, then did you know that I sent your wife the location of your vacation spot?" "...You what!?" "Oh, you met her then?" *Pon takes deep breaths to calm down* "I don't think there was anyone calling herself my wife-" "I never mentioned what species she was, did I?" "N-No, I don't think you did..." *Pon's face freezes in shock as I show him the completed application from his wife* "Y-Y-Y-Y-" "Yep, Yuuko the Youko. Did happen to meet anyone like that on your trip?" *Pon clenches and relaxes his hand several times* "Mr. Kanto, may I say something?" "So long as you understand my thought pattern, go for it." "I don't know whether to hit you or thank you right now..." "Hmm, that is a problem. Why not thank me while hitting me?" *Pon narrows his eyes* "I think you'd probably enjoy that, so I'll just go somewhere else for the rest of the day." *Pon leaves* Oh well, that was fun, just like writing this chapter. This brings me to another tough decision that I have with myself and I'm sure all of you can agree with me in some way or another: cats or dogs? More specific to the theme, Werecats or Werewolves? I'm not talking about the species, I'm referring to the families (species and subspecies). This isn't really a big issue itself, I'm just kinda curious about it and I wanna know what you guys think on it. Please comment below on your choice and gimme a reason if you want. We're all civil here, so let's get into some philosophy when discussing, okay? Oh by the way, the next one-shot in the list is Ryu, another popular request, so be sure to read it!